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All Five of UN Court's Criminal Case Are in Africa, Myanmar's Not a Member

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, December 5 -- "I don't believe the [International Criminal] Court needs to have cases in different continents," ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told Inner City Press on Wednesday. To date, all five of the ICC's inquiries are in Africa. Inner City Press asked about cases of child soldier recruitment in, for example, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka, which have been documented by the UN Security Council's working group on children and armed conflict, with information sent to the ICC. Asked if he is considering any case outside of Africa, Moreno-Ocampo said, "the concept of geographical and gender balance is for the selection of staff, not the selection of cases."  Video here, from Minute 26:33. Ever heard of selective prosecution? He added that those three countries are not members of the ICC. But neither is Sudan (nor the United States, for that matter).

            Moreno-Ocampo's purpose on Wednesday was to brief the Security Council about Sudan's failure to arrest and turn over two ICC indictees, Ahmad Harun and Ali Kushayb. His testimony, as distributed, as 31 pages long. Afterwards, UK Ambassador John Sawers spoke to the press about Sudan. Inner City Press asked about a statement by Amb. Sawers' minister, Lord Mark Malloch Brown, that other countries are not doing enough about Darfur. Inner City Press asked, "Which other countries?"

            "You'll have to ask... Malloch Brown," Amb. Sawers replied. Video here. Inner City Press followed with a question about four other ICC indictees, leaders of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Initially resistant to taking the question, Amb. Sawers then said that the UK's position is clear, the warrants must be executed. But when one compares the volume of speechifying about Harum and Kushayb versus the LRA's Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti and two others, one sees another case of selectivity. The LRA indictments are spoke about much less often. Does the media set this agenda, or do the politicians?

Mr. Moreno-Ocampo at the UN: I need only one continent

            Inner City Press asked Moreno-Ocampo about Uganda, specifically whether his office is acting on requests that it investigate the Ugandan army, the UPDF, as well. He said he has asked questions; Human Rights Watch last week said they've heard that no charges will be brought. HRW was also critical of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for not speaking out for the arrests of Hurun and Kushayb. Moreno-Ocampo, politically astute, said that he had thanked Mr. Ban for his words, but called for more "consistency" by the Security Council. But as Amb. Sawers was asked, which countries?

            Moreno-Ocampo was asked if the current and projected peacekeepers in Darfur should be expected to arrest Harun and Kushayb. No, he answered, the responsibilities lie on states. Inner City Press asked, what about the duty of the UN mission in Congo, MONUC, to arrest the LRA indictees who are in the DRC? Moreno-Ocampo said that part of MONUC's mandate is to respond to any governmental request to make such arrests, and that the request has been made. Inner City Press asked, But has MONUC done anything? "You have to asked Mr. Guehenno," the head of UN Peacekeeping, Moreno-Ocampo said.

            As the press conference was ending, Inner City Press asked Moreno-Ocampo if his office has in fact made the mission to Cote d'Ivoire that was long ago promised. "We will," he said. A film crew followed him, with a boom microphone as big as a watermelon. Moreno-Ocampo appears in the recent film "Darfur Now," in which Darfurian woman are shown chanting his name. Maybe the squeaky wheel gets the grease, even in the field of international criminal law.

* * *

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

  Because a number of Inner City Press' UN sources go out of their way to express commitment to serving the poor, and while it should be unnecessary, Inner City Press is compelled to conclude this installment in a necessarily-ongoing series by saluting the stated goals of the UN agencies and many of their staff. Keep those cards, letters and emails coming, and phone calls too, we apologize for any phone tag, but please continue trying, and keep the information flowing.

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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540